If you are looking for something interesting and fun to do with your dog, but the popular dog sports are not your thing, why not consider Dog Scouts? This non-profit organization was founded in 1995 by Lonnie Olson, whose original goal was to do as many different things as she could with her dogs. Per the Dog Scouts website:
“If you believe that dogs really enjoy learning new things and spending time with their owners, you’re our kind of dog person. Dogs were not meant to be “furniture.” Working dogs want to work. Without having an acceptable activity in which to use up all of that energy that comes “built-in” with a dog, our canine companions often get into trouble. By better understanding how your dog thinks, how he learns, and what drives his behavior, and by participating in a variety of dog sports and activities, you will become a more responsible dog owner. We hope to prevent misunderstandings, communication failures and behavioral problems which often lead to dogs being given up as a ‘lost cause.’”
While, due to my involvement in several dog sports, I’ve not had the time to get very involved with our local troop here in the Silicon Valley, I am in close contact with several people who are, and have had the opportunity to offer some learning lectures to them as well as attending several meetings.
“Our dog’s lives are much shorter than ours- let’s help them enjoy their time with us as much as we can.” — Dog Scout Owner’s Motto, from the DSA Website, www.dogscouts.org
After filling out an application of several pages, the new dog scouts members are welcomed to train with the local troop. They learn about training, proper socialization, and how to be good canine citizens. They then take a number of tests which must be videotaped and sent to the dog scouts headquarters. After passing these tests, they get to be official dog scouts. Then they go on to merit badges! Badges range in a wide variety of areas, including many dog sports and activities such as hiking, kayaking, and community services such as therapy dog work.
In the Silicon Valley, Troop 198 meets at the Humane Society Silicon Valley on a monthly basis. They work together to achieve official membership and merit badges, in addition to offering interesting meeting topics and guest presenters such as police dog handlers.
The DSA mission is “To improve the lives of dogs, their owners, and society through humane education, positive training and community involvement.” If this resonates with you and you are interested in expanding your dog’s world, consider looking into – or starting – a Dog Scouts troop near you.